Network documentation and monitoring are topics that never lose interest to me. Over the years I worked with many products, Nedi, Observium, Librenms,, NetBox, Icinga, NetShot, Smokeping to name a few. Each product has its strengths and weaknesses that in some cases are nothing more than the aspects on which the manufacturer has decided to concentrate development more. NetShot has compliance tests easy to write and verify, Smokeping is easy to setup and focused on monitor network and services latency.
Network changes Every time I manage a change to a customer network I have a chance to taste the many shades of possible IT Operations maturity levels. I collected some best practices over the years about how to reduce risk and speed-up the change and testing process. I’ll share some in this post. Improvements and suggestions are welcome in the comments of the post or on my Twitter account.
We live in a time of intent, automation, orchestration and a lot of wonderful tools that promise to make the life of network engineers easier. Sometimes reality is simpler and maybe less fascinating, real problems need to be solved quickly with small budget. The specific case I discuss here is a medium network, around a hundred devices. The problem is to create an inventory of all the devices, backup configurations and verify all the boxes have the correct syslog, ntp and timezone configuration.
The problem In my last post about Linux at command I talked about notifications on my mobile. In most of my automation scripts I prefer notifications to come to my mobile instead of via email or SMS (really? in 2015?) because: it is always with me I check it thousands times a day (I know you too ;-) ) it is a preferred channel - a specific app just for that The automation There are many notification services available today for free or minimal cost.
The problem As many IT professionals I work quite often on the command line with many command prompts open. Windows lacks a good native command prompt software so usually you see monitors filled with black terminals that are hard to manage and track. The automation ConsoleZ allows multiple tabs and to split tabs vertically or horizontally among with many other features. Get ConsoleZ HERE
The problem Security today is a main concern for every computer user. One of the first problem is how to manage password. I see many creative solutions around: post-it or paper only, use of the same password for all services, a spreadsheet inside an encrypted zip file… none of them appear safe or efficient. The automation I evaluated many password managers and I’m a happy 1Password user for years now.
The problem I manage many networks and quite often I work at customer site. For every site I need and IP address, gateway, Wi-Fi network, sometimes proxy, a printer and many other unique network settings. Change IP address on Windows is a process that takes too much time and many clicks. The automation I used to use netsh scripts to do that but it was hard to maintain. The OED solution: NETSETMAN
SecureCRT is one of my favourite tools, today I had a chance to use it in a way I didn’t expected. A customer called with a problem: he has a radio bridge that sometimes loses connection with the remote unit. The workaround is to reload the base unit. The process is manual, he monitors the radio bridge status and reload when required. Since the radio bridge is not business critical he doesn’t have budget to replace tha radio bridge or troubleshoot the problem, the request was to automate the check/reload process.
Quick tool: PingInfoView _PingInfoView is a small utility that allows you to easily ping multiple host names and IP addresses, and watch the result in one table. It automatically ping to all hosts every number of seconds that you specify, and displays the number of succeed and failed pings, as well as the average ping time._ OS: Windows License: freeware ###How I use it I find it particularly useful during network migrations to check if all the hosts are available before and after.
Log analysis is important to both troubleshoot and understand network devices behavior. Tail/less/grep are great tools that can help to filter and search hundreds or thousands lines of logs. If you prefer a GUI there are a couple of alternatives that can fit well. For windows users only Log Expert is a great choice with many features but it is not developed since 2012. Log Expert is a Windows tail program (a GUI replacement for the Unix tail command).
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